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CETA Stalemate to Cast Uncertainty on All EU Free Trade Deals

© REUTERS / Francois LenoirDemonstrators protest against CETA outside the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 20, 2016
Demonstrators protest against CETA outside the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 20, 2016 - Sputnik International
The European Union's failure to sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada would undermine EU credibility as a reliable partner and jeopardize bloc's negotiations on other free trade deals, BusinessEurope federation of EU enterprises' director of international relations Luisa Santos told Sputnik on Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Thursday, the 28-nation bloc and Ottawa were expected to sign CETA at the joint EU-Canada Summit. However, on Tuesday, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said there was little chance that CETA would be signed as its ratification stumbled in Belgium.

"The current situation, unprecedented in the history of the EU common commercial policy, is very serious. The impact of this stalemate will be on each and every negotiation the EU is currently conducting, not only on TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership], as the credibility of the EU as a negotiation partner is endangered," Luisa Santos of BusinessEurope, Brussels-based union of the European national business federations, that has actively lobbied for CETA, warned.

She added that the EU's failure to sign the deal would have "a serious impact on the EU’s image in the world and it will be more difficult in the future to find countries interested in negotiating with us."

Fabio De Masi, a German member of the European Parliament for the leftist Die Linke party, shared the opinion — though from quite a different angle — that CETA's failure would likely see the other trade deals buried alongside it and reduce to zero the chances of reaching the accord on TTIP in the first place.

"TTIP is off the table for now… What the recent events around CETA have shown is that in future trade negotiators won't have an easy ride trying to shield their narrow interests from the public eye. People want to know what is going on behind those closed doors and want to have a say in the outcome," De Masi, a staunch opponent of CETA and TTIP, told Sputnik on Tuesday.

On Monday Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said the nation was "not in a position to sign CETA" amid the Walloon government, the Brussels government, the government of Federation Wallonia-Brussels and the French Community Commission concerns about the deal. Under the Belgian federal laws, every region has a right to reject the agreement.

Thousands of people demonstrate against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in the centre of Brussels, Belgium September 20, 2016. - Sputnik International
Ruling on EU-Singapore Trade Deal May Let CETA Bypass Ratification Deadlock
CETA aims to establish a free trade zone between Canada and the European Union, scrapping more than 98 percent of the existing tariffs between Ottawa and Brussels. Opponents fear it would undermine standards and regulations on environmental protection, health, safety and workers' rights.

Apart from CETA, Brussels is negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Washington. Besides, the EU has finalized but not yet implemented free trade agreements with Singapore and Vietnam and economic partnership agreements with South African Development Community, West Africa, East Africa countries and Ecuador.

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